Last January, Joey St. Pierre joined the Wisconsin-Parkside men’s basketball program and immediately had three running mates.
As a redshirt freshman after transferring from Texas-El Paso, the 6-foot-9 St. Pierre worked in practice every day with guard Brandon Trimble and forwards Brandon Hau and Cameron Myre, all fellow redshirts.
“All of second semester last year, we were the scout team,” said St. Pierre, a Richmond-Burton graduate. “We had a chance to play together (every day).”
This season, the quartet is averaging nearly half of Parkside’s 72.9 points a game for a team that is more than halfway to its win total of a year ago.
“The core group of players is getting a feel for how to play together,” St. Pierre said of the NCAA Division II Rangers (5-7), who won only nine games a year ago. “I feel like we have a lot of potential.”
The redshirt freshman quartet is averaging 34.1 points a game for Parkside, which is 3-3 in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play. The Rangers are one of four teams tied for first place in the North Division.
St. Pierre is the team’s second-leading scorer at 10.9 points and game and its second-leading rebounder (4.6). He also is averaging 1.92 blocked shots a game, which ranks in the top 30 nationally.
St. Pierre has been highly effective in the post, hitting 68.4 percent of his field goals.
And he’s doing it all in less than 22 minutes a game.
What has made St. Pierre so efficient on a roster that has 10 players logging at least 10 minutes a game is both patience and confidence.
His best offense is “when I’m patient with the ball and I just take my take my time backing a defender down,” St. Pierre said. “Making sure I’m taking the best shot has been a key thing.”
St. Pierre said working on a variety of post moves with either hand is getting more comfortable.
His biggest improvement is “using my body to my advantage,” the 270-pound St. Pierre said. “That’s really helped me a lot.”
His confidence has come from being able to score in a number of ways and being able to effectively pass out of double teams to get more teammates involved.
On Dec. 29 against Trinity International, he scored 33 points of 14-for-16 shooting – all in 22 minutes.
“That was a fun game,” St. Pierre said. “It was definitely a confidence booster.”
Tarazi tops at Auburn: Freshman Val Tarazi (Prairie Ridge) has the second-best 100- and 200-yard breaststroke times this season for D-I Auburn’s women’s swimming team.
Tarazi posted both times at last weekend’s dual meet against Georgia Tech, when Tarazi won the 100 in a season-best time of 1 minute, 2.42 seconds.
Her season-best 200 time of 2:14.98 came in the prelims.
Both times have qualified Tarazi for the College Swimming Coaches Association of America’s National Invitational Championship in March.
She also earned a CSCAA championship qualifying time of 55.12 in the 100 butterfly prelims against Georgia Tech.
LaCrosse leaders: Huntley grad Josh Stenger and Prairie Ridge grad Nick Fetzner have both surpassed double-digit wins this season for the 10th-ranked UW-LaCrosse wrestling team.
A sophomore at 133 pounds, Stenger (11-4) posted a 5-1 record over the weekend to help the D-III Eagles (4-1) finish seventh at the National Wrestling Coaches Association Multi-Divisional National Duals in Louisville.
Fetzner, a freshman 165-pounder, has compiled a 10-5 record for the Eagles (4-1). Freshman Keenan Brummett (Harvard) is 4-1 at 149 pounds.
Whitewater at No. 2: The UW-Whitewater baseball team was voted No. 2 last month in the Collegiate Baseball magazine 2019 preseason D-III poll.
The Warhawks (33-8) return two top players from the McHenry County area this season in senior infielder Cal Aldridge and senior pitcher Michael Kaska.
Aldridge, a Prairie Ridge grad, was a first-team All-American last season after batting .451 with 19 doubles, 15 homers and 53 RBIs. Kaska (Richmond-Burton) finished 9-1 with a 1.41 ERA to earn third-team All-American honors.
Whitewater has qualified for NCAA regional play 11 years in a row. Last season, the Warhawks finished 20-4 in Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play to win its 18th regular-season league title.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at email@example.com and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.